Thursday, 18 March 2010

Post No. 104 - What makes a person spiritual?

So ... what makes a person spiritual?

Is it knowledge?

No, though applied knowledge, which is how I consider wisdom, helps ...

Is it being in the here and now?

That helps: a spiritual person has a deep awareness on all levels, whether it is being able to focus and listen to the three types of bird calls outside, the interest, affection or distress of a child or adult in their presence, or the suffering of people on the other side of the planet ... A spiritual person is likely to be someone who combines living in the here and now with the ability to think ahead, plan, and be prepared. ... If a spiritual person drives, they will be courteous, patient and obey traffic rules. A spiritual person knows that one doesn't affirm themselves by being aggressive, passively aggressive, or a self centred jerk: many rules in society are about ensuring everyone has a fair go - including other people who are also trying to use the roads safely. If you have to hurry and cut others off, or be impatient, you stuffed up your planning and/or commitments. A spiritual person is aware of the impact they have on others, both through personal presence, and through conduct - a spiritual person doesn't trigger asthma or disturb others by doing burn outs.

Is it power? The answer is supposed to be no, but a spiritual person has authentic presence, and that has an inevitable power, a presence that cannot be completely ignored without effort .- unless the spiritual person wishes it so ... A spiritual person is a doer, even if it is the doing of being still, and listening. In that action, in any action, a spiritual person stands out, as this world is now, and has an impact. Think of Gandhi, of Martin Luther King, or Nelson Mandela in his mature years - of Desmond Tutu. Do these people have power? Yes! The same power that we may feel as the peace of a gentle country scene ...

Does a spiritual person have temporal power? Again, the answer is usually supposed to be "no", but some of the great spiritual acts, such as the emancipation of slaves by Abraham Lincoln, have been dependent on them having temporal power. There is a saying that power corrupts: that saying usually refers to temporal power, but the saying, as with so many others, is not universal - some, maybe a very small number, but a definite few spiritual people are capable of having temporal power and doing good.

Is a spiritual person violent? Well, they don't initiate violence, but they will act firmly when it is needed. The war against the evils of Nazi Germany and Imperialist Japan, the Second World War, was, in my opinion, a justified, unfortunately necessary war. It could have been prevented, and the world would have been better place if it had (particularly as it could be argued that Nazi Germany had it's founding in an unjustified war, the First World War). There was a lot of "unspiritual" conduct on both sides, but prosecuting the war would be seen, sadly, as the lesser of two evils by a spiritual person (in my opinion, that is!).

Similarly, a spiritual person would take firm, assertive action against the likes of bullies - with a preference for both empowering the victims of the bullying, and enlightening the bullies.

Does a spiritual person save you from your own mistakes? No, not necessarily. Someone who is genuinely spiritual has probably learnt a great deal the hard way - by making mistakes, and learning from them. Sometimes people won't listen, and take the benefit of others' wisdom: they choose to learn "the hard way". It can be very hard to stand back and let a loved one make mistakes, but if you've genuinely tried all other ways, that may be the last resort available.

Is a spiritual person perfect? Well, we are all perfect in our own way - despite us all, including spiritual people, having faults. Spiritual people don't have to attach to problems just to be "different", or an individual. Every spiritual person is unique: they are "perfect", in a sense, but each is perfect in their own way.

Does a spiritual person seek to score points? No - but they make a necessary point firmly, in a way that is so honest and close to the bone that you feel uncomfortable, but it will be made with respect.

Does a spiritual person believe in God? God is just a word describing a concept: it is possible to act in a compassionate way without believing in God - consider Buddhists and humanists. A spiritual person generally knows we are all part of a greater whole, but even without that, and without God, they can see we are all better off if we all behind with kindness and consideration.

Is a spiritual person OK with their body? Yes, but they understand that others may have body image issues.

Being "sex positive", i.e., seeing sex as a natural part of life, not something to be either suppressed or made into a "nudge nudge wink wink" show, goes with being OK about our bodies. Sex does not have to be part of a permanent, ongoing relationship, but it should be had ethically, with genuine, informed consent of all involved or connected. Polyamory is a valid relationship option, as it is ethical - it has the informed consent of all partners.

Asexuality and celibacy are also valid options, as deserving of respect and dignity as any other form of sexuality. It should go without saying that a spiritual person is not disturbed by homosexuality or bisexuality. In fact, there may be a good chance that a spiritual person is bisexual, as it gives the greatest range of experience in this world.

Does a spiritual person ever limit their caring only to family, or set their family's needs above that of others? No! Never! A spiritual person belongs to the family of humanity, not the family of biology.

We are all part of one big spiritual family: a beggar in the streets on the other side of the world is JUST AS deserving of caring as a spiritual person's relatives.

Note that they are equal in deserving caring: the family deserves caring as much as the beggar, although the beggar's needs may be greater, far greater. So a spiritual person won't forget about their family, especially those less able to care for themselves, such as elderly parents.

Is a spiritual person ever fashionable? Sometimes, maybe, but never as part of the social control game that "fashion" too often is, with people excluded or included on the basis of how well they stay up with what is supposedly the latest fashion.

Can a spiritual person ever be trapped in a situation? Yes, if there is a greater good to be served that way - the problem is, most times when people stay trapped because they think they are serving a "greater good", they aren't ...

Does a spiritual person ever work behind the scenes and "pass" on the opportunity to achieve fame or glory? Yes - absolutely yes. A spiritual person is likely to be self actualising, and rates the approval of peers far above the mindless adulation of strangers.

Does a spiritual person judge the action, not the doer? Well, we are here: what we do is more often our acts of commission and omission than what we say - words are, it is sometimes said, cheap: they are, if they conflict against the weight of our deeds. What this is about, really, is forgiveness: a spiritual person, having made many errors in the past, knows that genuine change is possible. A spiritual person knows also how hard that change may be, and how the actions of someone yet to change for the better may so severely harm others that the acts need to be stopped for the greater good until the harm-er has finally been able to change, but a spiritual person will ALWAYS acknowledge that change is possible.

We are the sum of what we do, or don't do - whether that is thoughts, feelings, words spoken or unsaid, or acts committed or not. The deed is an indicator, of sorts, of the doer - including he deed of allowing, or not allowing, for change.

As my final point: what is a spiritual person? I think you know, maybe buried deep inside you, but I think you do know.


That is my take on what constitutes spirituality - a take I would love to be able to word craft into something as elegant as the Desiderata. It's certainly what I aspire to (I ain't there yet!).However, there are other views on what constitutes a spiritual person.

In fact, one of the spurs I had to finish this post came from a close friend who sent me the following link:

The short description of the article at the end of that link is:
"A person can reach a high level of spiritual development without being emotionally and psychologically mature; this has been shown in a new study by Prof. Ofra Mayseless at the University of Haifa"

In effect, in the study described at the end of that link, the question is posed: "can someone be spiritual without being mature?"

In MY personal definition of spirituality, the answer is: no. However, my concept of spirituality has been influenced by definitions and experience along the lines of integrating spirituality into everyday life, being all that one can be, manifesting spirituality through acts of kindness and through compassion, etc.

If one has a view of spirituality that it (spirituality) is something which is transcendent, or "mystical", or somehow "out there", separate and different to the mundane or physical world, then it would be possible to conceive of someone who is immature somehow having a mystical vision and therefore being spiritual.

My take on that is that it is confusing psychism with spirituality: to me, things like mystical visions are a part of psychism, and whether it is spiritual or not depends on the effect it has on your life - e.g., are you a kinder, more considerate person as a result of having had that vision?

Nevertheless, it has to be said that other reasonable people's views on spirituality would be equally as valid as mine (the "reasonable" qualifier is to exclude someone who ... say ... considers their spirituality requires them to attack or dominate others).

In any case, the question is a useful one to stimulate some thought on this topic.

Happy thinking (or "fulfilling contemplation", if you prefer) :)

Love, light, hugs and blessings


Tags: spirituality, attitudes, awareness, bullying, control, communication, daily life, life lessons, lifestyles, perceptions, personal characteristics, personal responsibility, philosophy,

First published: Thursday 18th March, 2010

Last edited: Friday 19th March, 2010